The head of the body representing New Zealand's irrigation
interests says the past year has been one of progress for the
sector - but has also generated a few concerns.
Irrigation New Zealand chairman John Donkers used his
chairman's report at the annual meeting in Amberley on
October 17 to review the year.
There had been much activity in the ''land and water space''
throughout the country, most of which was positive but some
which was of concern, he said.
Severe weather events experienced throughout the country had
raised questions about managing risk for irrigators.
Drought and low river and groundwater flows had highlighted
the need for more water storage to provide better reliability
Widespread gale-force winds had caused millions of dollars of
damage to irrigation equipment and could delay the start of
irrigation for some.
''Irrigation New Zealand has a role in ensuring the lessons
from this event are learned so that the impact of a similar
future event will be mitigated,'' Mr Donkers said.
In the past year, regional councils had begun processes to
give effect to the Government's national policy statement on
freshwater, to manage water quality and allocation.
''Irrigation NZ has some concerns about the inconsistent
outcomes of these processes across the country.''
In some regions the process had been ''open and
transparent'', but in others it was ''less clear'', putting
irrigators and those developing irrigation in ''a very
Irrigation NZ was ''generally pleased'' with the Land and
Water Forum's final report but would have liked to see it go
further in providing irrigators with greater long-term
certainty of water supply, he said.
Highlights were the support shown for the sector through
various Government grants: $35 million from the Irrigation
Acceleration Fund, the allocation of $80 million for
irrigation investment and the set up of the Crown Irrigation
Investment Company to manage those funds.
As well there had been a higher level of collaboration
between agricultural sector representative organisations to
achieve better outcomes for farmers and irrigators, he said.
''The establishment of Primary Sector Land and Water
Partnership by Federated Farmers is a significant initiative,
which aims to provide a united position for agriculture in
respect of the significant land management and water issues
that are likely to confront farmers in future,'' Mr Donkers
The partnership is chaired by Federated Farmers national
board member and retiring Irrigation NZ board member Mid
Canterbury-based Ian Mackenzie. Mr Donkers thanked Mr
Mackenzie, who stepped down at the meeting, for his
contribution over the past four years.
Mr Donkers was re-elected chairman for a further term.